The Labor Department reported today in Washington, applications for jobless benefits fell 9,000 to 363,000 in the week ended Oct. 27. Estimates for first-time jobless claims ranged from 355,000 to 380,000 in the Bloomberg survey of 49 economists. The number of people continuing to collect jobless benefits rose by 4,000 to 3.26 million in the week ended Oct. 20.
Fewer Americans than forecast filed first-time claims for unemployment insurance last week, an indication demand is strong enough to maintain current staff levels. Fewer firings may mean companies are poised to boost hiring should the economy avert damage from the package of tax increases and spending cuts that will take effect next year if lawmakers fail to act.